As health equity advocates we share a fundamental vision of a nation where every single human being has an equitable chance to enjoy the best health possible, no matter who they are—including where they were born. For us, it is not about being on the left or right of the political spectrum. Equal access to good health is an intrinsically human value.
One of the many must-do items on Congress’s agenda when it returns in September is something that should be easy: extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). If Congress doesn’t act to extend CHIP funding, health coverage for 9 million children will be in jeopardy.
What Congress must do to prevent millions of children from losing health coverage is clear: Pass a “clean” funding bill that extends CHIP funding for five years.
A growing number of states are using the waiver process to make fundamental changes to the Medicaid program. Many of these waivers set a dangerous precedent for the Medicaid program and affect the entire country, as other states seek to follow along adding features to their Medicaid programs that hurt the ability of people with low incomes to get the care they need.
We are facing an extraordinary volume of potentially harmful Medicaid waivers that are under review at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). While comment periods seemingly just closed for a slew of states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Iowa), two radical Section 1115 adult coverage waivers have now opened for federal comments: Maine and Utah.
The various bills repealing the Affordable Care Act all took cracks at altering Section 1332, the part of the law that allows states to waive several private insurance provisions in order to establish state innovations.
States can make major changes to coverage under a 1332 waiver. As Congress mulls changes to the health law this fall, it is important that all proposals retain or strengthen protections to ensure that these changes actually benefit consumers.
Update (6/27/2017): Under the Senate Republican repeal bill, states could opt out of requiring plans to cover some or all of the essential health benefits, which are important health care services like mental health care, prescription drugs, and maternity care that all plans must cover under the Affordable Care Act.